Stoops, Brown preview Louisville game

MARK STOOPS
“Good practice today. Got a lot of good work in. Intensity was up. Good, physical. Good, hot day. So it was a lot of work, good practice, so pleased.”

BETTER THAN YESTERDAY THEN? “Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Just cleaner. Yep.”

WHEN DID IT COME UP THIS PLAN TO USE SMITH AND WHITLOW IN THE WAY YOU DID?  “We thought it about it last week and game planned for it. You’ve heard me say I think just about every press conference that we expect both quarterbacks to play. So we’re just staying on course there.”

SOME OFFENSES DO ONE SERIES WITH ONE QUARTERBACK, THEN ANOTHER SERIES WITH THE OTHER. WHY THIS WAY? “We, again, you’ve also heard me say whatever we’ve got to do put our players in a position to be successful, whatever we think can help us in any schematic advantage, anything we have to do to help us win, we’re going to do.”

AS A DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR, IS IT MORE CHALLENGING WHEN THEY’RE ROTATING IN AND OUT WITHIN A SERIES? “It does with the speed at which we operate. With series, I think it’s a little bit easier that way. So, you know, again, I’ve often said that tempo can be effective if you’re executing the right way.”

HOW DID LINEBACKER PLAY LAST WEEK AND AGAINST LOUISVILLE’S BALANCE, WHAT SORT OF BIND DID THAT PUT THEM IN? “Yeah. They’re going to have to play well. Because of the run/pass conflict that they’re in, we just have to execute, we’ve got to play very good. We talked about it after the first game, we can’t give them yards on routine plays. That’s just being good, sharp football team, all 11 guys being in the position they need to be in, be physical. Take care of your job and make good, clean tackles. Position on the football is a big thing. When you’ve got guys who can make plays like they do, you’ve got to have a lot of guys in good position.”

SEE ANY RENEWED URGENCY OUT OF BACKUP LINEBACKERS? “Yeah. Yeah. I see guys working to get better. I see Khalid (Henderson) out there working to get better, doing some good things.”

ANY EXTRA MOTIVATION WHEN YOUR OFFENSE KNOWS LOUISVILLE’S ONLY ALLOWING SEVEN POINTS A GAME? “I don’t know if we need any extra motivation. We know we’re playing a good football team really on all sides, so we’re really concentrating on ourselves and doing the best we can every week.”

ON MAKING TEDDY BRIDGEWATER UNCOMFORTABLE: “Anytime, any great quarterback, I don’t care if you’re playing Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or anybody, what people constantly talk about with quarterbacks is trying to make them uncomfortable. He could certainly pick you apart if you give him time. So any time you have any great defenses, it’s getting some pressure and making him uneasy.”

ON IF THAT’S EASIER SAID THAN DONE: “Absolutely. And that takes a complete defensive effort, not just the front. You have to play good coverage. If there’s guys wide open, he’s going to just get rid of the ball very quickly.”

WHAT LOUISVILLE IS DOING RIGHT TO SCORE SO MUCH ON ITS FIRST FIVE POSSESSIONS OF GAME: “Yeah. It is. It is important to get a stop. Again, they’re just very balanced, very poised. I think they have a good idea of their game plan going into it with the basics of their game plan. You’ll see a lot of what they’re going to do throughout the game in the first two, three series, and they’re executing very well, playing very fast.”

WHAT WAS DIFFERENT ABOUT UK’S START SATURDAY: “We executed much better. We executed much better. Obviously it was different because we were on defense the first game and didn’t stop them, and that may have hurt our momentum, and we talked about that; I don’t want to go back to that. But then on the next game, we took the ball and went right down and scored. Obviously that helps get off to a fast start.”

ON HOW MUCH OF LAST YEAR’S LOUISVILLE GAME HE’LL WATCH: “Oh, no. Not much. Not much.”

ON MAXWELL SMITH THROWING 50 TIMES IN THAT GAME: “I think again, (they did) whatever they felt they needed to do to try to win. Same thing we’re gonna do. If that means running it 50, 60 times, that’s what you’ll do. If it means throwing it, you know. You never know how the game’s gonna pan out. You have an idea going into it what you want to do, and then you have to alter that to try to win the game.”

HOW RETURNERS HAVE BEEN IN PRACTICE: “Yeah. We’ve worked hard. I think we’ve cleaned up some things. I expect us to be improved.”

IS LOUISVILLE RUN GAME DIFFERENT DEPENDING ON WHO IS BACK THERE: “It’s the same. It’s the same. They’re all very versatile backs, very good, strong backs.”

ON IF THE BUTTERFLIES WILL BE GONE FOR THE YOUNG PLAYERS AFTER TWO GAMES: “I expect them to be better. It’ll be obviously, I think, a little bit bigger crowd. The atmosphere I hope is a little better and all that. So that may add to it a little bit, but I think it definitely helps that we’ve played a couple games and (we’re) starting to improve there.”

WHAT IT IS ABOUT TIMMONS THAT LETS THEM USE HIM SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS: “Yeah. We felt all along, you’ve heard me talk about that really since we’ve recruited him. You could watch him on film and see a very good football player. Just a guy that does a lot of things well. And I’ve said it before: He may not be the fastest or the biggest or whatever, but he’s just a good football player. And so we liked that about him, and he fits into our offense, as you can tell, because we do a lot of different things. And I think we’ve been very good and very creative with him to get him the ball.”

NEAL BROWN
“Good afternoon everybody. Doing good. Finally got a hot day, man. It’s nice. We’ve had two good days of work. I think our guys are focused. I think anytime with young people when you start having a little bit of success, I think you can build off of it. I think they kind of see the fruits of their labor last Saturday. We’ve had two good spirited, spirited workouts.”

ON IF HE’S EVER DONE ANYTHING LIKE HIS CURRENT QUARTERBACK BEFORE: “I really haven’t. I really haven’t. And it’s kind of what it is right now. If one guy separates himself then we’ll play one, but right now I think the best opportunity for us to play well on offense and for us to win is kind of playing both those guys.”

ON WHY HE DECIDED TO ROTATE THEM LIKE THEY ARE INSTEAD OF GOING ONE SERIES AT A TIME: “Cause they’re different. I think it’s really harder on defense. I kind of asked our defensive guys. They practice different things. Jalen (Whitlow) really practices everything as the backup, and Max (Smith) has most of the game plan that he practices. Then Jalen’s got special things. And we practice kind of rolling them in and out, so they were used to it by the time game time came on Saturday.

IF HE’S WORRIED THE ROTATION MIGHT HURT TEMPO: “Well if you pay attention, most of them — I didn’t mean that you weren’t paying attention. I didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean to implicate that. (Laughs) But we did it a lot on dead balls. You know, so whether it was a first down or an incomplete pass or first play of the drive is kind of when we did that.”

ON IF HE THINKS HE’S STARTING A NEW TREND: “I don’t know. I doubt it. I doubt it. Coach Spurrier, he’s been doing it for a long time. He said it.”

ON HOW CONFIDENT HE IS WE’LL SEE THEM PLAY THAT WAY ON THE FIRST SERIES FOR LONGER: Well I hope so. I think as the guys mature in what we’re doing and gain more confidence and we play better, I hope we have more series that look like that. I thought it wasn’t just the first series. We had three or four series there early where we looked good, and a couple there late in the third quarter where I thought we were moving at a pretty good pace. But I think it will happen more as we go.”

IF IT’S HARDER ON HIM AS AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TO HAVE TWO QUARTERBACKS: Yeah, it is. But that’s fine. I can handle it. It just takes a little bit more preparation. Mentally, I have to be really in tune about who’s in the football game, as to what I’m calling. And at practice, I probably get our game plans done earlier, just because now, for me, I’ve got to practice that rotation Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday to get it down for Saturday.”

ON HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO REPLICATE THE HOT START AGAINST MIAMI: It’s important. I think it’s always important to start well. We talk about finishing, of course, but I think just as important is getting off to a good start. We got the ball first on Saturday, were able to go down and get a lead. With our young guys, I think getting control of that game early I think was really beneficial. I think it helped our defense.”

IF NERVES COULD AFFECT THE YOUNGER PLAYERS IN A RIVALRY GAME: Well the good thing about the young guys is, they don’t know any better. Last week was their first home game, the week before that was their first game ever. This is their first Louisville game. They just kind of go with the flow. But it’s an important game. It’s our next game. We haven’t spent a whole lot of time building it up. It’s out there. Everybody in their classes are talking about it. Their families are talking about it. They realize the importance. I don’t think they’re going to approach the game any differently than they have. Well, they better approach it better than they did the first one, but I don’t think they’re going to approach it any different than the second.”

HAVE YOU WATCHED ANY OF LAST YEAR’S LOUISVILLE GAME OR WILL YOU WATCH? “I watched bits and pieces of it. Not as much this week. I watched more of it when I was evaluating back in the spring.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE FROM LOUISVILLE’S SECONDARY THAT MAKES TEAMS THROW AGAINST THEM SO MUCH? “Well, I think the reason people throw is that they get behind. Their secondary is as good as anybody in the country. They’ve played a lot of snaps back there together. I think several of them are going to play in the NFL. I think the people throwing, I wouldn’t take that as their secondary’s a weakness because it’s definitely not. It’s probably as good as anybody in the country. I think most of the time what happens is, they get ahead in games and people try to throw to catch back up.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT JON TOTH AT CENTER? “Well, I think he’s more athletic. He’s longer. He played well on Saturday. For a kid going out and making his first start, I thought he did some good things. Obviously, the competition cranks up this week.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET ON THE BOARD EARLY? CAN YOU ROCK THEM IF YOU GET ON THE BOARD EARLY? I don’t know about rocking them. They’re a veteran group. They’ve got a great defensive staff over there led by Charlie Strong, so I don’t think they’re going to be rocked. It’d be beneficial to us, no question, if we could score early and have success early.”

WHEN YOU HEAR A DEFENSE ONLY ALLOWS SEVEN POINTS A GAME, DOES THAT MOTIVATE AN OFFENSE TO TRY TO DO BETTER? I didn’t even know that until you all told me that. No, they’ve been good. They played really good defense, especially at the end of the year last year, which is to be expected. If you look at Coach Strong’s track record, where he was at Florida and South Carolina—even that far back—they’ve always played good defense. The thing that sticks out about their defense is when you turn it on, they fly to the football. They play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. They’re physical, and they fly to the football. They play like a defense—like if I was coaching defense, that’s how I’d want my guys to play. Because they are really into the game. What we’ve got to do is, we’ve got to come out and match that intensity.”

ON TEMPO IN THE LAST GAME AND WHAT HE STILL WANTS IN THAT AREA: “Yeah, well, I thought we came out of the blocks and played with a lot of tempo. I thought in the middle of the second quarter, early in the third quarter, I thought we didn’t play as fast. We didn’t have the same sense of urgency. I want to play with a sense of urgency all the time, regardless of the score. And that’s why I got after these guys pretty good at halftime, just because I felt like we had a letdown. And even though that game was in hand, we’re preparing for the rest of the season. So we’ve gotta play with more tempo. That’s something we stressed this week in practice. I think it gives us a chance. I think it gives us a chance, especially in the second and fourth quarter against really good teams.”

ON BEING AT 3.03 SNAPS PER MINUTE OF POSSESSIONS IN THE FIRST HALF AGAINST MIAMI AND WHETHER THAT’S A STAT HE TRACKS, STRIVES FOR A CERTAIN SPEED: “No, not really. There are so many variables that go into that, you know what I mean? What I want to do: I look at, when I’m watching a game, I’m trying to see how much dead time there is if we’re trying to play with tempo. Now I’m not trying to play with tempo all the time, because situations, whether our defense has been out there a while the previous series or how things are going, the score, whatever it may be. But when we’re trying to play with tempo, what I’m really paying attention to is how much dead time there is between when our guy gets tackled and when we’re snapping the ball.”

ON WHETHER UL MOVING AROUND PRE-SNAP AFFECTS UK’S TEMPO AND WHETHER THE CATS WILL AUDIBLE MORE AT THE LINE: “No. I don’t think so, because they move so much it wouldn’t do us a whole lot of good to audible, because they’re just going to move again, you know? They do – they do a good job mixing it up. We’ve practiced that a lot this week. Western did some of that, too, so we’ve seen a little bit of that, and live. I think our guys up front, our O-linemen, will be ready to handle that a little better this week.”

ON HIS IMPRESSIONS, AS AN OFFENSIVE GUY, OF CARDS QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER: “You know, I’ve watched him; I’ve watched their games. On Sunday I usually turn on and watch the other team’s offense to just kind of get a feel for what we’re going against. He’s just impressive. He’s got a lot of poise in the pocket. He’s a great athlete. I haven’t seen him shook. Even watching him last year, just kind of as a fan, he never got shook. I think he always plays well in big games. I saw where he was, in a couple Heisman polls, he’s leading. And I think that’s justified.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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